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Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding a Voice for Agriculture

In the recent January edition of BEEF magazine, Mike Apley DVM, PhD in clinical sciences at Kansas State University, expressed his thoughts on the next generation of agriculturalists. "Our agricultural youth are teaching us about finding our voice as a food animal industry in the seemingly hopeless maze of social media that is flying around in "the cloud" of cyberspace." explains Dr. Apley. Check out the full article Here.

His example of the next generation of agriculturalists is KSU's Food for Thought group. Food for Thought's members work to effectively educate, and engage others in conversation about the animal agricultural industry and where their food comes from.

"We have a whole new generation of leaders in agriculture bent on aggressively communicating our story to their peers." Dr. Apley continues.

Members of Food for Thought aren't the only ones striking up conversations...check out what some of these folk's have to say...

http://advocatesforag.blogspot.com/
http://www.midwesterngold.com/
http://ksgrains.wordpress.com/
http://cdycattle.blogspot.com/

Don't forget to follow along with us on Twitter @fftgroup and join along in conversation on Facebook! We'd love to hear from you!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Foodie Feature: Hannah Hayes

If I could write like this, Food For Thought's vision would be plastered in every newspaper in the continental US. I encourage you to read what Ms. Hayes has to say, very few of us could've said it better. This letter to Chef Anthony Bordain is AMAZING!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Down on Main Street

Food For Thought members at Operation Main Street training

Thank you Bob Seger, for the introduction. Last Thursday and Friday, 10 Food For Thought members participated in Operation Main Street (OMS). OMS is a pork industry media training program sponsored by The National Pork Board. The goal of Operation Main Street is to educate trainees on pork production, current issues in the pork industry and how to communicate with the public and media about the pork industry.

During the two day event, FFT members learned how to prepare and conduct a telephone interview, deliver an informative speech and how to field tough questions about pork production. Chelsea Good was a participant in the telephone interview exercise. After her interview, she was able to hear what the reporter would have aired on a news program. All OMS participants agreed that having a live example was extremely valuable in learning the proper way to conduct an interview.

Participants took their first-hand knowledge of pork production, combined with the speaking skills learned from the program, and developed a 5 minute speech about the pork industry. After delivering the speech, each participant fielded tough questions from OMS peers and pork industry leaders. Some of the tough questions asked of OMS participants included:

- How do today’s pork producers control odor on modern pork farms?
- Why do you enjoy raising pork?
- Isn’t it true that today’s pork farms employ a large number of illegal immigrants?

Other questions dealt with common misperceptions in animal agriculture such as antibiotic use, euthanasia and undercover videos.

Additionally, the program provided FFT members with valuable current information on the economics of pork production, current government policy that affects pork producers, animal well-being and environmental issues.

OMS was a valuable experience that provided participants with the information needed convey to the truths, and bust the myths, about U.S. pork production.

If you would like to host an OMS speaker, you can visit the Operation Main Street website or contact a FFT member directly.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Economists View of the Local Food Movement

Rather than do a poor job of paraphrasing a well done piece, I've posted a link to a thought provoking article on the local food movement. Enjoy.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2011/LuskNorwoodlocavore.html

Monday, January 10, 2011

Industrialized Farming

If a teacher walked to the front of the classroom and took to scribbling notes in chalk on a blackboard, I'd be thinking, "Where is the technology and advancement?"

If a doctor walked in to your patient room armed with only a stethoscope and a note pad, I'd be thinking, "Where is the technology and advancement?"

If an architect walked in with drawings in pencil and hand calculated measurements, I'd be thinking, "Where is the technology and advancement?"

At school, I expect my information to be downloaded onto a laptop and presented on a large screen complete with figures and pictures. At the hospital, I expect my health to be evaluated by top of the line testing equipment and multiple options. At the architect's office, I expect to see the drawings and figures in 3-dimension with fancy imagery and amazing detail.

My generation expects a lot of technology to be involved in our every day lives.

I guess that is why I have trouble when people don't have the same expectations or at least display a reasonable level of acceptance when talking about food production.

While recently visiting with a friend of mine, who opposes modern agricultural practices and the idea of industrialized farming, I was reminded of my more realistic expectations of technology in agriculture .

She's right, family farmers utilize a lot of modern techniques that help improve their yields and feed more people while using less land to do so. Industrialized farming also provides better ways to conserve the land and practice more sustainable farming techniques. Modern agricultural technology provides for more efficient use of natural resources and overall increased production to feed a hungry world. What I don't understand is what exactly she opposes.

I don't expect my mail to be delivered by horseback.

I don't even expect half of my mail to be delivered by paper.

I don't expect my food to be produced like it was 50 years ago.


Friday, January 7, 2011

The Farmer in the Dell - not the HP


Hi, my name is Brandi. I'm 24 and technologically challenged.  I have difficulties using my internet phone, changing my blog design takes an inordinate amount of time and I don't know how to load music onto my iPod. It's embarassing, I know.

While I'm not so hot at managing a RSS Feed I am pretty good at internet surfing and today I found this little gem while I was rummaging for blog ideas -

Ten Technical Terms About Computers And What They Mean To Farmers
Log on: when you want to make the homestead warmer
Log off: Timberrrrrrrrrrrr.
Mega Hertz: when you're not careful getting the firewood
Lap top: where the cat sleeps
Hard drive: maneuvering through rocky fields on the northern range when there is snow on the ground
Windows: what to shut when it's cold outside
Byte: what mosquitoes do
Modem: what I did to the hay fields
Keyboard: where the keys hang
Mouse: critters that eat the grain in the barn

While the info on this list may have been true 5 years ago, today more and more farmers are logging onto their computers and utilizing social media (Twitter, blogging and Facebook) to connect to consumers and tell the story of American agriculture.

Do you have a question for a farmer or rancher? Now it's easier than ever to reach out and ask a farmer or rancher about how food is produced. Check out these farmers' blog and Twitter feeds:

@JeffFowle  - Conservative, Christian, rancher, farmer, cattle, horses, hay, animal welfare specialist, Agvocate, husband & father
@farmerhaley - 5th generation Ohio Family Farmer, Raising grain and purebred Simmental cattle. Passionate about farming and Animal Welfare! email: farmerhaley(at)gmail.com
@DebbieLB - A cattle rancher in Kansas, raising 5 teenagers!
@OHDairyFarmers - Meet Ohio Dairy Farmers! We care for our cows, respect our land and produce safe, high quality milk.
@thefarmvet - We love animals, food and traveling! A large animal veterinarian and his wife working in California with today's farms.

http://kansascattleranch.blogspot.com/
http://cdycattle.blogspot.com/
http://dustonthedashboard.blogspot.com/
http://kansasgrains.wordpress.com/
http://webelfamilyfarm.blogspot.com/

I hope these resources, in addition to Food For Thought, will aid you in learning more about agriculture and food production!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Top ten list and image courtesy of www.guy-sports.com

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Story of Corn: As Told by a 4-year-old.

You may remember my post written this summer, The Story of Wheat: As Told by a 3-year-old.

Well this fall Cameron turned 4! He also got to see corn harvest at our farm. Irrigated corn is the main crop that we harvest and by the end of the season our combines have shelled close to 1 million bushels of this crop. Remembering what a bushel is, that is a lot of corn! Today while traveling to my hometown with my nephews in tow, we passed the John Deere dealership in a nearby town. Cameron spotted a combine with a corn header on it. This brought on the story of corn, and it goes a bit like this:

(his words, not mine, and you are lucky it's my spelling!)

  1. Corn is a kernel and Papa's tractors plant it in the dirt in rows.
  2. Papa has to water the corn to get it to grow.
  3. We eat corn when the petals are green, but cows eat it when the petals turn brown.*
  4. When the corn turns all brown Papa can cut it with a combine.
  5. He has to put a corn header on the combine, it's the pointy one, not the round one!**
  6. The combine pours corn into the grain cart.
  7. The grain cart dumps it into a big big truck.
  8. The truck takes the corn to the elevator.
  9. The elevator loads up train cars that will take some of the corn to the cows for them to eat.
  10. That's the story of corn, Tera, yep that is the story of corn.
*Here he is referring to the sweet corn that he likes to eat so much. I wrote a post about the difference between sweet and field corn a while back. You should check it out if you haven't read it. Our farm grows only about one acre of sweet corn. Just enough for our family and friends to enjoy. Sweet corn is ready in July usually and the leaves (or petals!) are still green when we hand pick it. The rest of the corn crop is field corn and it is harvested in September by large combines when the leaves have turned brown.

**A combine is a large piece of machinary that harvests grain crops. It will cut the plant, take in and separate the pieces of grain and shoot out the extra stems and leaves. Combines come with removeable heads that are designed to harvest different crops. The most common one you will see is called a grain platform or standard header. It is used to cut cereal grains. Most farmers use a specialized corn header to harvest corn. Cameron sure loves combines!


This is a combine with a standard header attached to it. Cereal grains are harvested with this header and are things like wheat, rice, oats, and barley and are referred to as staple crops because they produce more food worldwide than any other crop.

This is a combine with a corn header attached to it. Now you can see the pointy things Cameron was referring to!

Enjoy!

Tera

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolve to Evolve

Photo courtesy of http://egoscueportland.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/join-the-revolution.jpg



Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year's Eve weekend and that you're all ready to jump headfirst into 2011.

I'd like to challenge each and every reader to evolve in 2011.  This isn't a Charles Darwin lecture -- this is about evolving as a consumer; become more informed and educated about the food you choose to eat, where it comes from and who produces it. All of us, producers and consumers alike, regardless if you live in the country or the big city, should make educated decisions about what we put on our plate. So I strongly encourage that if you hear gossip about a certain food, agriculture practice or eating lifestyle - check it out for yourself.  Form your own opinion - don't just take someone's words as truths.

At Food For Thought, we strive to facilitate learning about food and agriculture production.  Many of our previous posts have done just that.  Below are some of the posts that explain a little more about certain agriculture practices and foods - I hope you enjoy them!

Basil Blues
Getting to know your BEEF
Cotton is King: Part 1 and 2
The Story of Wheat: As Told by a 3 Year Old
Amber Waves of Grain

Additionally, you can check out these resources for more information on nutrition and food safety in the United States.

Nutrient Rich Food Coalition
Tips on Choosing Produce and Keeping it Fresh and Safe from Plant to Palate
Food Safety Education - Meat and Poultry Hotline

I hope that you'll all join me in becoming a healthy, informed consumer!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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